Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Introducing #museumfitness, a Side Project where Art & Athletics Mix

When I have a day to myself, there are two things I like to do most in this world:
  1. work.
  2. work out.
To celebrate the confluence between these passions, some buddies and I have started an instagram account called @museumfitness. We are posting short museum-based exercise videos each week. I invite you to follow the account, send in your own videos (tagged #museumfitness), and sweat along with us at your institution.

While it's a silly project, #museumfitness is also a small attempt to break down unproductive divisions between "art people" and "sports people." Pop culture often tells us that intellect and sports don't mix. Some of my museum friends seem viscerally uncomfortable with athletics. Some of my fitness friends would never set foot in a museum. I believe that smarts and sports DO mix... and at least for me, they enhance each other.

I've been a nerd my whole life, and a jock since high school. When I was 14, I joined the water polo team. I spent every morning and evening in the pool. I loved it--the hard work, the yelling coach, sweat in my eyes and chlorine in my hair. I felt like part of something challenging and communal.

After high school, I stopped playing high-level sports but kept building my passion for social sweat. I boxed. Played ultimate frisbee. Climbed rocks. Played beach volleyball. Right now, when I'm not at work, I'm training for obstacle course races with a local team.

For me, sports are a way to push myself and to connect with people who are different from me--both skills that enhance my work as well.

I love challenges. Challenges at work can be messy and interpersonal. Challenges in athletics are simpler. Cleaner. How far can I run? How hard can I push myself? I can dig deep when I want to, and if I decide to quit, I'm not letting someone else down. When I challenge myself in sports, I train myself to be tougher in a low-stakes environment. That helps me confront challenges at work--which often come with emotional or political stakes--more confidently.

I love building social bridges. My museum focuses on it, and I really believe that building bridges across differences can build a better world. I get to practice bridging in my personal life through sports. My fitness friends come from all walks of life. They are more diverse than my colleagues economically and politically. Despite our differences, we trust each other and support each other. We work together to achieve impossible, trivial heights.

For no obvious reason, we have quite a few #museumfitness fanatics at the MAH. I love working with people who know how to push themselves beyond their comfort zones. I love working with people who aren't afraid to shoot for a big goal. I love working with people who are ready to dive in and support each other so we can reach that goal. I learned a lot of these lessons playing sports. I have no doubt you could acquire these skills in other ways. But I learned them--and keep learning them--through fitness.

If YOU are a closet member of the #museumfitness tribe, join us in bridging these divides. Take a five-minute pushup break in the office. Run up the stairs. Invite your colleagues to sweat along with you. Invite your gym-mates into your museum. And shoot a video for instagram. We'd love to have you as part of our team.
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